Growing up, I had everything a kid could ask for. My parents loved and supported me. I had 2 loving sisters. I excelled in the classroom and on the athletic fields. I was popular and outgoing. If I had a choice before I was born and could pick my childhood, this is exactly what I would have asked for.
All-American – Teen’s Experience with Drugs, Addiction, and Recovery
High school was a great time in my life. Friday nights in the fall consisted of playing football and then going to the after party. These were great times. I’d hang out with friends, have a couple of beers and that was it. I wasn’t into drugs nor would I even consider trying them.
As I got older, the good times kept on happening. Curiosity started to kick in, and seeing that no one else seemed to be getting in any trouble I didn’t see any harm in experimenting a little. The hesitation and fear in trying something else disappeared over time as I continued trying new drugs. Little did I realize at the time is that with each new drug I tried, my disease of addiction was beginning to control more of my life without me even knowing it.
By my second year of college, my grades fell to the point where I was ineligible to play football or baseball. I didn’t believe for a second that this was due to my drug use. I wasn’t attending class so of course I was failing. At the end of the semester I received a letter in the mail informing me that my scholarship had been revoked and that I wouldn’t be able to return to school for at least a year. They wouldn’t even let me pay to come back.
With college in the rear view mirror, my disease had free reign to begin really destroying my life. Experimenting gave way to full blown addiction and my life was spiraling out of control. I had no idea how I had gotten to this point and felt like I had nobody that I could turn to for help. How could I sit down and tell my family I had a drug problem? They’d be devastated. I had this all-American kid image and had hid behind it for so long that even though I was nothing like that anymore, I still wanted people to believe that’s what I was.
Lost and all alone, I continued to use. I was a slave to my disease. Whatever it told me to do, I did. I wanted so badly to hit the reset button and go back to that 16 year old all-American, but that wasn’t possible. I began discretely seeking out help through different avenues. I tried confessing my sins at church. I tried moving to a new city. I even contemplated joining the military. None of it worked. My disease sat back laughing and continued to destroy me. I went to both AA and NA meetings but couldn’t relate to anything that was being said. I was so busy judging everyone in the room that I couldn’t identify with the fact that these people were just like me and could help. The all-American kid wasn’t an addict or an alcoholic. I didn’t have a problem that these people could help with.
With nowhere else left to turn, I checked myself into rehab. Walking through that door the first day was the hardest thing I ever had to do. With each day that passed I began to feel a little better and started to open up about my life. I was no longer alone. I no longer had to fight this battle in the shadows. I began looking at the similarities I shared with others and stopped focusing on the differences. Acceptance and honesty were old ideals reborn in me. I didn’t have to hide behind the all-American kid image anymore and live up to those expectations. It was okay that I struggled with certain things and that I needed help. It’s part of being a person.
Today I walk with my head held high. I have been clean and sober for over 6 years now. I am blessed to have my family still by my side. I have an amazing support group and I love my job. I no longer dwell on where my life could have gone. I’m grateful to be exactly where I am today. The challenges I’ve gone through have helped mold me into the man I am today and I wouldn’t trade any of it in. If you need help beginning your recovery journey, First Step to Freedom is a call away. Just dial (888) 415-8810 for information.